College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Brian A. Powell receives distinguished scientist award


Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2018 Fred C. Davidson Distinguished Scientist Award is Brian A. Powell, the Fjeld Professor of Nuclear Environmental Engineering and Earth Science at Clemson University.

The prestigious award was presented at the recent Edward Teller Lecture in Aiken. CNTA sponsors the Teller Lecture as a public outreach, which is named for the famed nuclear pioneer who played a key role in advancing nuclear science during World War II.

Brian Powell, right, works with students in his lab.
Brian Powell, right, works with students in his lab.

Powell received his master’s and doctorate in environmental engineering and science at Clemson University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in both the chemical sciences division and the actinide chemistry group.

His research focuses on understanding and predicting the physical, chemical and biological processes that govern the mobility of radionuclides in natural and engineered systems. This work is important to evaluate risk posed by subsurface contamination, to design remediation strategies for contaminated sites and to facilitate the use of safe disposal practices.

He has received over $16 million in funding from numerous federal departments and agencies.

Powell is a prolific author and researcher and is widely recognized in his field. He has published over 60 refereed journal publications, 16 research reports, and made over 100 technical presentations on these topical areas. He is the winner of the 2014 South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, the 2013 Department of Energy Early Career Research Program Award, and the 2011 Clemson University Sigma Xi Young Investigator of the Year. He also serves on the Radiation Safety Committee of the USEPA Scientific Advisory Board and is a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection.

He has a long-standing relationship with the Savannah River Site (SRS). He first came to SRS in 2000 to gain experience at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) working with plutonium and the environmental aspects of radioactivity. This past May, Powell was named to a joint faculty position at SRNL and Clemson University to advance research on environmental remediation and radioactive waste disposal.

The Distinguished Scientist Award is presented annually to recognize regional scientists and engineers who have made exceptional lifetime scientific achievements. The award is in honor of Fred C. Davison who was Chairman of CNTA’s Board of Directors from 1994 until his death in 2004.


Fred C. Davison was president of the University of Georgia for 19 years where he encouraged math and science education and managed the doubling of graduate enrollment. He was also president and chief executive officer of the National Science Center Foundation, president of the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scouts Council, an elder at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, and an active Rotarian.

CNTA is an Aiken-based charitable educational organization dedicated to providing factual information about nuclear topics and educating the public on nuclear issues. For further information, call CNTA at 803-649-3456 or e-mail at


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